With Casinos Closed, Poker Tournaments Bet on Digital

Samson Amore

As Las Vegas casinos remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, virtual poker tournaments broadcast on social platforms like Facebook Watch, Twitch and YouTube are growing in popularity. Although the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which oversees all gambling activity in Vegas, released procedures for casino reopenings last week, the Board said there is not yet an official reopening date. Two of the industry’s largest poker sites, Poker Central and World Poker Tour, have shifted their events online in lieu of packed casinos. “Even pre-COVID, these sites had been around forever and needed new users, and Twitch was a new way to acquire new customers,” Scott Ball, president of marketing group End Game Talent and former global head of poker partnerships for Twitch, said. PokerCentral said its direct-to-consumer streaming video on demand offering PokerGO saw annual subscriptions up 272% in April from the month prior but would not disclose specific subscriber counts. World Poker Tour said its over-the-top viewership was up 125% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Also Read: Upfronts Go Virtual: Here's Every Broadcast Network's Plans Poker Central’s online platform, partypoker, was launched in 2001 to host poker competitions ranging from amateurs to...

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